COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The head of Columbia Public Schools on Tuesday proposed a four-day week as an alternative to bringing students back into classrooms for two days in a hybrid plan.
CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman told the Columbia Board of Education at a special meeting that the CPS administration will likely recommend a plan to put students in school four days per week. The plan will go before the board for a vote Monday.
The plan helps keep teachers from being stretched too thin and helps parents who say they'll lose child care with a two days per week plan, Stiepleman said.
Watch the meeting live in the player below.
Dr. Stiepleman said this four days a week plan would allow the district to prepare for additional 14-day closures, the schools buildings would be cleaned on Wednesdays and it would allow for essential training like the reading program.
During the meeting Dr. Stiepleman had quotes from medical professionals about the plan, like MU Health Care infectious disease expert Dr. Christelle Ilboudo.
Ilboudo said the four day in-person learning method does make more sense to her for all-ages, even though this option would not allow students to socially distance.
Stiepleman said CPS students could socially distance through a hybrid learning method but can't in person. Delaying the entrance of students into class was the right decision, he told the board.
“We did our part in flattening the curve,” Stiepleman said.
Stiepleman said the earliest CPS could bring back elementary students is Oct. 19, middle school students on Nov. 5 and high school students on Jan. 19.
Stiepleman said CPS teachers would be stretched thin in a hybrid learning method. There are 220 substitute teachers ready to go for pre-K through fifth grade by Oct. 19.
For a four-day return, Stiepleman said pre-K through fifth grade would not have social distance in classrooms.
Board member Teresa Maledy asked if CPS could expand virtual learning for families who aren’t ready to come back. Stiepleman said they couldn’t do it because of staffing.
Board member Della Streaty-Wilhoit said she does not believe CPS is ready to return to in-person learning.
Streaty-Wilhoit said this is because Columbia and Boone County are still seeing too many new cases.
Overall 164 CPS students have been affected by COVID-19 and 16 coaches.
CPS started the year online-only on Sept. 8, citing the high number of new COVID-19 cases in Boone County. Since then, the rate of new cases has fallen below levels administrators pegged for a partial return to the classroom.
John Potter, a CPS parent who attended the meeting said he was disappointed as they district did not provide any options to allow students to fully return to all in-person learning.
"I think that CPS should supply a way for you to learn at home if you are at risk or feel that this is going to hurt you," Potter said. "But we also need a way for people that think they're healthy to be able to fight this, to be able to go to school. I mean, we just need the right for children to go to school full time."
Check back for updates to this developing story or watch ABC 17 News at 9 and 10.